Mountain Scene in Ogden, Utah

Summer travel, or travel any time of year, conjures up thoughts of different cultures, varied landscapes (and seascapes) and all kinds of exciting experiences. For me it also provides the opportunity to explore design aspects unique to a region. There is little I enjoy more than strolling down a boulevard admiring the grand Parisian facades or walking in a quiet American neighborhood viewing the charming homes and gardens.

We’ve done pretty well this past year vacationing mainly domestically where we could engage in outdoor activities that were low risk. We started the year off with nearly back-to-back trips to Utah. We visited my brother and his family in Ogden (as shown in the photo above), where we enjoyed the proximity of the mountains, hiked with snowshoes and reveled in the rare winter outdoor dining experience.

Pamela O'Brien in the Snow at the Lodge in Snowbird, Utah

We followed that up with a trip to Snowbird, Utah which really took me back. The Lodge at Snowbird, shown above, has barely changed since the ‘70s, although the décor is more refined and the restaurants are much better. I spent many of my formative years as a child in Salt Lake City and staying in the condos at Snowbird is a fond memory.

Fast forward to spring and warmer weather. I took a chance on being able to travel internationally and had to fast-track my passport. With wait times of 20 weeks and no responses from government offices, I highly recommend using one of the expedited services. I used Rush My Passport  and, although I paid several hundred dollars, they kept me informed every step of the way. I also got my passport in exactly four weeks.

It’s a little-known fact that most countries require three to six months left on your passport when you travel. We learned this at Heathrow Airport when trying to travel to Switzerland one year. Jon only had 4 months left on his passport, so we were not allowed to board our flight to Geneva. We learned to check our passports even when we know they aren’t expired!

Back to this spring and having my passport in hand, I did a surf and yoga retreat in a remote part of Panama. I flew in two days early to explore Panama City. I was wowed by the cosmopolitan atmosphere and amazing skyscrapers. The Hilton Panama was a beautiful hotel and I lounged the first morning, using the fabulous rooftop workout room and pool. I ended the day with a private tour of the Canal Zone and all of Panama City including the charming Casco Viejo or old quarter. Here are a few photos of my all-inclusive day in Panama from the view from my hotel room and a visit to old city to a pool side scene and tugs working the canal.

Above, Panama City from my hotel room and (at right) me visiting old city

Above, the pool scene and (at right) tugs working the canal in Panama

I met my group the next day and we had a long bus ride to almost the westernmost tip of Panama, Santa Catalina. In fact, I think the westernmost point is Santa Catalina Island, where we spent a day, so I feel like I really did travel to the end of the earth! We spent a week in the tiny little surfing town and enjoyed yoga, surfing lessons, snorkeling, island hopping and self-reflection. It was a great way to get back into a small group atmosphere after more than a year of shutdown.

Brightly Colored Hammocks in Santa Catalina

native flowers from Panama

From a design standpoint our accommodations were rustic. You could see cracks through the doors and creatures of all kinds were present. However, there was a very authentic feel to the place and I felt we were living a more natural life. We rose early for yoga or movement classes, had a nice breakfast and café con leche and then geared up for our water sports for the day. Some days we had free time when the pool and hammocks beckoned. Others we were out in nature all day long.

The décor was simple but charming. What I especially liked were the plantings and the clever little arrangements the wait staff would create with what they could find in the garden. I also thought the brightly colored hammocks (shown above) gave a festive vibe to the courtyards.

Everything was open air, including the restaurant and the yoga space and most spots had this view. This was at low tide. At high tide, the waves lapped at the gate!

We squeezed in one trip to Alaska over Memorial Day weekend. There is an annual party in Meyers Chuck where my father-in-law is building a cabin. We make a point of attending the party which is always a wonderful evening. It also means we get the boat in the water for the summer and get to check on the cabin so it’s a useful trip. Here’s a picture of our boat at the Halvorsen dock, me relaxing on the boat and the cabin in progress. It’s still dry inside!!!

Pamela O'Brien in Alaska

We’ll head up another time this summer and we’re looking forward to that. It’s nice that everything is set up and ready to go. My husband is itching to put more miles on the boat!

Until next time, find your inspiration, or call us and we’ll help you discover it.







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